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Senate Approves Pair of Judicial Nominees

The Senate voted Monday to confirm a pair of federal court appointees in an end-of-the-year push to whittle down the backlog of pending Obama administration nominations.On a 72-16 vote, the Senate approved the nomination of Andre Davis to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The nomination of Charlene Edwards Honeywell, tapped for a district judge spot in Florida, was also approved, 88-0.Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), blasting Republicans for “obstructing and stalling— action on Obama’s court picks, noted 10 judicial nominees are pending on the calendar. Of those, five are for circuit court seats and five are for district court positions.“The obstruction and delays in considering President Obama’s judicial nominations is especially disappointing given the extensive efforts by President Obama to turn away from the divisive approach taken by the previous administration and to reach out to Senators from both parties as he selects mainstream, well-qualified nominees,— Leahy said in a floor statement.Davis is the second circuit court nominee to clear the Senate this year and the fifth judge overall. Gerard Lynch, tapped for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was approved in September.Davis’s confirmation now leaves an opening in the lower court in Maryland that must be filled. Additionally, five of the 15 seats on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are currently vacant.The battle over nominees continued when Judiciary ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) lambasted Democrats for holding up President George W. Bush’s lower-court picks and leaving vacancies. “I certainly don’t think that we need to have outrage from the other side about vacancies on this court since they are a direct product of the efforts of my colleagues to be those vacancies open,— Sessions said.Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a floor statement Monday that he will likely file a procedural motion to clear the nomination of David Hamilton, an Indiana native nominated to serve on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Hamilton’s nomination has been pending since June.Reid also told lawmakers Monday to be prepared for a vote on the $134 billion military construction spending bill next week, when Senators return from the brief Veterans Day recess.“Monday, a week from today, we’ll have votes in the morning. We have to do that,— Reid said, while still holding out hope he might be able to reach an agreement with Republicans to pass the bill before adjourning for the recess Tuesday night. “I would hope that we can work something out,— Reid said. “But as we’ve learned during this Congress, it’s very difficult to work things out.—